2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 - Nashville 4, Anaheim 2 – Predators win series, 4-2
Welcome to the Western Conference semifinals, Nashville. In an event that’s been a long time coming, a franchise exorcised a demon that had established a seemingly permanent residence in Music City U.S.A. Moreover, the way in which the Nashville Predators punched a ticket for the second round of the playoffs carried a powerful symbolic resonance.
Yes, for the first time ever, the Predators won a playoff series. The Anaheim Ducks lost in the opening round for the third time in seven playoffs, but the story is how Nashville hurdled the obstacle that has constantly stood in its path.
Nick Spaling scored his second goal of the game at 4:53 of the third period as the Predators closed out their first postseason series victory to advance to the Western Conference semifinals, beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. One year after losing a Game 5 lead in the final 40 seconds of regulation and then dropping an overtime decision, the Predators scored a Game 5 win by tying the Ducks in the final 40 seconds of regulation and winning on the road in Anaheim. That bit of turnabout set up Sunday’s clincher, and so the Preds’ ability to seal the deal has to be indescribably sweet for coach Barry Trotz and the rest of the Nashville hockey family.
The visiting Ducks put up a good fight before being sent home. They got an early lead when Teemu Selanne scored his sixth goal of the series at the 10:22 mark of the first period. In typical Nashville fashion, though, the ever-resilient Preds added a late-period goal when Spaling scored with just 28 seconds left in the first period.
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The Predators took their first lead of the game when Steve Sullivan scored just 3:29 into the second period. The Ducks answered with a tying tally of their own when Jason Blake scored a power play goal at the 18:23 mark of the second period. No one knew what to expect in the final 20 minutes of regulation, but as it turned out, the Predators finally saved enough in the tank to finish off an opponent in springtime.
The late-second period goal the Ducks posted was the last goal Anaheim scored this season. Spaling delivered the series-clinching goal for Nashville at 4:53, and with the Ducks’ emptying their net, the Preds finally arrived at their moment of destiny. They put the icing on the cake when a power play empty net goal was notched by 12-year Nashville veteran David Legwand with just ten seconds left in the contest.
The fifth-seed in the Western Conference must now wait and see who it will play next; that’s a situation it’s never had before; the Preds will certainly savor it for a few days.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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